U.S. Junior Amateur preview: Defending champ Min Woo Lee headlines field

Getty Images

U.S. Junior Amateur preview: Defending champ Min Woo Lee headlines field

Junior

U.S. Junior Amateur preview: Defending champ Min Woo Lee headlines field

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the June 2017 print edition of Golfweek

In the past, Min Woo Lee would not have had the opportunity to defend his U.S. Junior Amateur title. Before this year, the age limit for the event – and the U.S. Girls’ Junior – was 17 years old. But the U.S. Golf Association last July announced, among other changes, that the maximum age had been raised to 18.

Lee, who turns 19 on July 27, gets a crack at joining rare company.

“It would mean so much because I know only two people have got multiple U.S. Junior wins, Jordan and Tiger (Spieth won twice and Woods three times),” Lee said. “And just winning the U.S. Junior, it’s a big win because it’s the biggest junior tournament in the world.”

Lee, ranked 51st in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, has been busily preparing for the July 17-22 championship. He has played all over the world this summer, teeing it up in his native Australia, Europe and the U.S. Recently, he made match play at the British Amateur and lost in a playoff to Sahith Theegala at the Sahalee Players Championship.

Lee will remain in the U.S. this summer as he also plays the Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur.

“My game feels very comfortable on American-style courses,” Lee said.

He won’t play college golf and instead plans to join his sister, LPGA player Minjee Lee, in the pro ranks in the next year or so. Defending his U.S. Junior title would be a great step in that direction.

• • •

U.S. Junior Amateur

(Flint Hills National, Andover, Kan., July 17-22)

Players to watch

  • Noah Goodwin, 17, Corinth, Texas: Runner-up a year ago at U.S. Junior, Goodwin won the AJGA CB&I/Simplify Boys Championship this spring.
  • Cole Hammer, 17, Houston: Boasts top-3 finishes at Jones Cup and Azalea Invitational, and top 11s at Northeast Amateur, Terra Cotta Invitational and AJGA Thunderbird Junior.
  • Eugene Hong, 17, Sanford, Fla.: Was an alternate for the U.S. Open before finishing runner-up at the AJGA Haas Family Invitational. Twice a U.S. Junior semifinalist.
  • Min Woo Lee, 18, Perth, Australia: Defending champ recently lost in a playoff at Sahalee Players. Top 3 each of past two years at Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.
  • Davis Shore, 18, Knoxville, Tenn.: Hasn’t had the best of summers but does boast top-10s this year at the Jones Cup and Junior Invitational at Sage Valley.

U.S. Girls’ Junior

Boone Valley GC, Augusta, Mo., July 24-29

  • Youngin Chun, 17, Gainesville, Fla.: Coming off a victory at the AJGA Polo Golf Junior Classic, her fifth top 10 of the year. Last year’s runner-up at AJGA Match Play.
  • Lucy Li, 14, Redwood Shores, Calif.: Ranked second by Golfweek and made Round of 16 last year. Won the ANA Junior Inspiration this year and Junior PGA last fall.
  • Erica Shepherd, 16, Greenwood, Ind.: Duke commit made the Round of 32 last year. She also qualified for the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open and has three AJGA top 5s this year.
  • Yujeong Son, 16, Norman, Okla.: Made the semifinals last year before losing to eventual winner Eun Jeong Song. Won this year’s Kathy Whitworth Invitational.
  • Tavatanakit Paphangkorn 17, Van Nuys, Calif.: Top-ranked golfer in the Golfweek/Sagarin Girls Junior Rankings made Round of 16 at both the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur last year.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home